The Good, the Bad, and the Best: Practices for a Post “Wild West” Email Marketing World


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Adopting email marketing best practices isn’t about ticking boxes. It’s about execution. Join Chad White, ExactTarget’s Principal of Marketing Research and the author of “Email Marketing Rules: How to Wear a White Hat, Shoot Straight, and Win Hearts,” as he discusses a variety of best practices and shares real-world examples of brands with good, bad and the best executions. Hear real-world examples of brands with good, bad, and the best executions. You’ll see all types of digital content including signup forms, welcome emails, mobile-friendly emails, preheaders, unsubscribe pages, and more.

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  • A little background on me: I founded the Retail Email Blog and authored it for 6.5 years, worked at email marketing agency Smith-Harmon (acquired by Responsys) and at the Direct Marketing Association’s Email Experience Council, and started by career in journalism at Dow Jones and Conde Nast.
  • Best practices are often misunderstood, with some people confusing best practices with common practices.
  • Some take a simplistic tick-the-box view of best practices and claim that if everyone is doing the same thing it leads to mediocrity.
  • Even Dilbert takes shots at best practices!
  • In my book I compare best practices to a sheet a paper. It is confining to the degree that you have to stay on the paper and not be drawing on the table and floor and walls, but a sheet of paper also gives you lots of freedom for unique executions.
  • Your most valuable subscribers always come from your website, making it a critical email acquisition to optimize.
  • Southwest Airlines present two clear engagement options: email and an app.
  • The email signup form is direct, showing you a sample email, outlining benefits, and asking for just 4 pieces of information in order to sign up.
  • Meineke asks for lots of contact information—email, phone numbers, mailing address—making it clear that they’re going to send you direct mail and call you as well as email you. They also want car information that they could get themselves if they focused more on just getting you signed up and encouraging you to redeem your signup incentive coupon.
  • EBags has a prominent and simple signup form.
  • During early November, eBags added a seasonal appeal to their signup language to boost optins.
  • Welcome emails are becoming fairly common, but welcome email series are the new differientiator.
  • Threadless uses on brand imagery in their welcome email…
  • … and includes four calls-to-action to deepen their relationship with the new subscriber.
  • Tide doesn’t try to engage new subscribers at all, is vague about what they’ll be delivering, and their logo suffers rendering problems.
  • Zulily sends a series of welcome emails, with the first focused on referrals,…
  • … the second on getting to know the new subscriber’s brand preferences so they can send relevant emails in the future,…
  • … the third focused on getting them to download their mobile app,…
  • … the fourth focused on engaging them on social media, and…
  • … the fifth asking for friend referral again. These welcome emails are interspersed with the promotional emails.
  • Preheader text often appears as snippet text following a subject line on the iPhone, in Gmail and in Outlook new email notifications.
  • The email clients that block images by default have been struck through, but it’s changing all the time.
  • This 2011 B&H email uses great defensive design techniques like HTML text and alt text,…
  • … which came in handy when this email was sent because their image server failed so no images were displayed.
  • This is the Anthropologie email with images on…
  • … and this is the same email with images blocked.
  • This is the Mothercare email with images enabled…
  • … and this is with images blocked.
  • The UK retailer uses styled alt text and background colors for most of the effect, but also uses mosaic color blocking to recreate the stroller image.
  • Reading email is the No. 1 activity on smartphones and smartphone penetration is still growing, so mobile is a growing consideration.
  • Lowe’s email is very tablet-friendly. Even their navigation bar is touch-friendly.
  • They limit their product grid to two columns wide, use large text and big buttons.
  • They also use plenty of white space to boost contrast and make the text easier to read.
  • Costco’s emails are still desktop-oriented. They’re very long, use small text, and have a 5-column wide product grid.
  • Currently the height of mobile-friendliness is responsive design. This is a Starwood email viewed on a wide screen…
  • … and this is the email viewed on a narrow screen. Some of the less important content drops out and calls-to-actions get bigger.
  • The administrative links at the bottom of the email are also touch-friendly.
  • Consumers are suspicious of first-name personalization in subject lines. Open rates are lower when it’s used,…
  • … as are click rates.
  • For this Aug. 2011 email, Helzberg created 60,000 unique animated gifs to target each of their subscribers by name with these charms, which jangled back and forth. The subject line was not personalized. This email outperformed a similar email by nearly 300% in terms of revenue generated.
  • The most subscribers opt out because of too frequent or irrelevant emails, so try to address those issues on your unsubscribe page.
  • Staples lets you change your email address, opt-down to receive fewer emails, or opt out completely. The options are clearly laid out.
  • Uncommon Goods uses a one-click unsubscribe process and the opt-out confirmation page makes no attempt to engage outgoing subscribers in any way. The page, which doesn’t carry any branding or offer any links to anywhere, is cold and almost hostile.
  • Jetsetter offers folks the opportunity to change their email address, opt-down to receive fewer email, and to update their interests—which addresses three of the top reasons people unsubscribe.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Best: Practices for a Post “Wild West” Email Marketing World

    1. 1. The GOOD the BAD and the BEST Practices for a Post-Wild West Email Marketing World
    2. 2. Elyse Dupré is a reporter at Direct Marketing News and covers ever- evolving trends in the marketing world. She joined Direct Marketing News in August 2012 after graduating from Boston University with a B.S. in journalism and a B.A. in psychology. Moderator: Elyse Dupré @chadswhite #ET13
    3. 3. • Principal of Marketing Research at ExactTarget • Author of the book Email Marketing Rules • Email Insider Columnist • Blogger for 7+ years (2,500+ posts) Speaker: Chad White @chadswhite #ET13
    4. 4. What are best practices? @chadswhite #ET13
    5. 5. @chadswhite #ET13
    6. 6. @chadswhite #ET13
    7. 7. @chadswhite #ET13
    8. 8. @chadswhite #ET13
    9. 9. @chadswhite #ET13
    10. 10. “Best practices are those practices that generally produce the best results or minimize risk.” @chadswhite #ET13
    11. 11. “Following best practices doesn’t make you mediocre, unimaginative or a conformist.” @chadswhite #ET13
    12. 12. Adopting best practices isn’t about ticking boxes. It’s about execution. @chadswhite #ET13
    13. 13. @chadswhite #ET13
    14. 14. Let’s look at the GOOD, the BAD, and the BEST of 8 email marketing practices… @chadswhite #ET13
    15. 15. 1. Signup Process @chadswhite #ET13
    16. 16. @chadswhite #ET13
    17. 17. @chadswhite #ET13
    18. 18. @chadswhite #ET13
    19. 19. @chadswhite #ET13
    20. 20. @chadswhite #ET13
    21. 21. @chadswhite #ET13
    22. 22. 2. Signup Confirmation Pages @chadswhite #ET13
    23. 23. Sign up confirmation pages… • Confirm opt-in was successful • Set expectations • Collect more subscriber data • Secure additional opt-ins • Engage with offers or content @chadswhite #ET13
    24. 24. @chadswhite #ET13
    25. 25. @chadswhite #ET13
    26. 26. @chadswhite #ET13
    27. 27. @chadswhite #ET13
    28. 28. 3. Welcome Emails @chadswhite #ET13
    29. 29. @chadswhite #ET13
    30. 30. @chadswhite #ET13
    31. 31. @chadswhite #ET13
    32. 32. @chadswhite #ET13
    33. 33. @chadswhite #ET13
    34. 34. @chadswhite #ET13
    35. 35. @chadswhite #ET13
    36. 36. @chadswhite #ET13
    37. 37. @chadswhite #ET13
    38. 38. @chadswhite #ET13
    39. 39. 4. Preheader Text @chadswhite #ET13
    40. 40. @chadswhite #ET13
    41. 41. Under Armour, 5/21/13 — Built To Tackle The Sun & Sand It's Always Sunny Somewhere — Shop Now | View Online. Urban Outfitters, 5/20/13 — Are you ready to get the party started? Shop Summer Party Essentials @chadswhite #ET13
    42. 42. Victoria’s Secret, 4/16/13 — This one's for you, Angels... You have asked to receive emails from Victoria's Secret. If you have received this email in error, please unsubscribe here. Monterey Bay Aquarium, 5/21/13 — Bid Now for the Oceans: Last Chance! Having trouble reading this message? View it online. Ann Taylor, 5/20/13 — FINAL HOURS! EXTRA 50% Off Sale Final Hours: Take An Extra 50% Off All Sale Styles! @chadswhite #ET13
    43. 43. West Elm, 2/18/13 — Today only: free shipping (plus a Presidents Day surprise) Use promo code FREE4PRES at checkout, some exclusions apply Threadless, 4/24/13 — Aerosoiled and 9 more new goofy designs by MADE artist Aaron Jay! Plus, hang out while we interview Aaron Jay at 11:30AM CST. @chadswhite #ET13
    44. 44. 5. Defensive Design @chadswhite #ET13
    45. 45. @chadswhite #ET13
    46. 46. @chadswhite #ET13
    47. 47. @chadswhite #ET13
    48. 48. < Images on @chadswhite #ET13
    49. 49. < Images on Images off> @chadswhite #ET13
    50. 50. < Images on @chadswhite #ET13
    51. 51. < Images on Images off> @chadswhite #ET13
    52. 52. @chadswhite #ET13
    53. 53. < Images on @chadswhite #ET13
    54. 54. < Images off @chadswhite #ET13
    55. 55. 6. Mobile-Friendly @chadswhite #ET13
    56. 56. @chadswhite #ET13
    57. 57. @chadswhite #ET13
    58. 58. @chadswhite #ET13
    59. 59. < Wide screen Narrow screen > @chadswhite #ET13
    60. 60. 7. Personalization @chadswhite #ET13
    61. 61. @chadswhite #ET13
    62. 62. @chadswhite #ET13
    63. 63. Lenovo, welcome email — Chad, thank you for signing up. Enjoy your exclusive Lenovo offer. Michael’s, progressive profiling email — Chad, isn't it time we got to know each other? Olive Garden, birthday email — Chad, go celebrate your birthday with a free app or dessert! ThinkGeek, 5/17/13 — Chad, I am your father @chadswhite #ET13
    64. 64. Subway, 9/4/13 — Chad, it's time to celebrate! Any regular FOOTLONG(TM) is a $5 FOOTLONG(TM) all SUBtember(R) long. (At participating restaurants. Pricing details inside.) Volkswagen, 2/22/13 — Chad, don't miss out on a limited- time offer on the 2013 Passat Chili’s, 7/21/13 — 2 Coupons for Chad Chadwicks, 2/18/12 — , enjoy $4.99 shipping today! @chadswhite #ET13
    65. 65. @chadswhite #ET13
    66. 66. @chadswhite #ET13
    67. 67. @chadswhite #ET13
    68. 68. 8. Unsubscribe Process @chadswhite #ET13
    69. 69. @chadswhite #ET13
    70. 70. @chadswhite #ET13
    71. 71. @chadswhite #ET13
    72. 72. @chadswhite #ET13
    73. 73. @chadswhite #ET13
    74. 74. Email marketing’s impressive power obscures an unfortunate truth… @chadswhite #ET13
    75. 75. “Poor practices are blunting email marketing’s effectiveness and keeping its ROI from being truly awesome.” @chadswhite #ET13
    76. 76. Thank You! Please complete the survey for this session. @chadswhite #ET13
    77. 77. Email Swipe File Plus, reports that showcase the best pins
    78. 78. Download it for FREE during Connections courtesy of ExactTarget: @chadswhite #ET13